The very fact that people still get married is a sign of hope to me. The marital statistics are dismal. The TV portrayals are grotesque. There’s a thousand scary reasons not to do it. But the world is full of young folks walking down aisles and speaking vows of life-long commitment to one another. I don’t think I’m a twerp when I say, “That’s a good sign.”
Today, it’s Brandon and Emily’s turn. One of them my youngest daughter. The other one my soon-to-be-newest-son. Both, in their thirties. Neither one married before. Her waiting on Mr. Right to come along. Him looking to find his soul mate. If it were scripted, it couldn’t be any better.
In case you didn’t know it, the preparation for the wedding day is a strategic accomplishment equal to the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s. Maps and deployments are involved. Schedules are made. Dates are assigned, and deadlines are set. I could sense the military-like approach that my daughter took to making every detail of this day exactly like she saw it and exactly like she knew it could be.
I got my assignments months ago. Since this is a December wedding, the Christmas theme was driving this wagon. I was given four jobs. Five if you count helping set up and decorate, but we’ll get to that later. My jobs were to pick up Christmas Trees, provide holly cuttings with lots of berries, find a dozen of the most beautiful poinsettias the world has ever seen, and use my chain saw resources to get her a dozen 2” thick by 12” diameter Oak discs for table center pieces.
Let’s start with the Christmas Trees. These are not to be trees out of a box. No sir. These are to be trees that rival the White House and the Rockefeller Center. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but BIG is what she had in mind. And to her credit, she did some looking around and found a Christmas Tree Farm who promised her that they would have 10-12 ft. trees on the day she wanted them. My job was simply to drive the truck, haul and deliver, unload and keep them hydrated, reload and deliver again, drag them in the church and stretch out the kink in my back by getting these monsters to stand up. That was it.
So, on a Sunday afternoon a week ago, we got in my truck and headed out for Gilbert’s Christmas Tree Farm between West Point and Fredonia, AL. Just out Co. Rd 286. Follow the signs.
That place was rocking. Cars and trucks parked everywhere. Families with 1.5 kids pulling wagons around and using sharp hand saws to cut down the perfect Christmas Tree. Trees being shoved through a funnel and out the other side squeezed up tight in a plastic netted hug. Hot cider and cookies available inside. Gilbert had it going on.
I found a young girl with a “Gilbert’s” T shirt on and asked her how this works. “Just tell Troy over there what you want. He’ll point you in the right direction.” So, I introduced myself to Troy and asked him where the 10 to 12 foot trees would be.
“You want to cut it down and bring it back up here to the barn, or do you want us to get it for you?” Troy was being as cheerful as he could after taking care of a million customers already.
“Naw. I need three of them. I’ll let you cut ‘em and haul ‘em for me.” Troy’s cheeks blew up like a bullfrog’s throat as air slowly hissed through his lips.
“You go pick ‘em and I’ll get ‘em for you. No problem.”
Christmas trees of this magnitude are a new experience for me. I should have brought a crane and a monster trailer with me. Instead, me and two toothpick high school boys heaved these suckers up onto my truck like whales on a toy barge.
I said to Gilbert, “This is pretty crazy. Is it always this busy?”
“For four weeks out of the year it is.” He was huffing out of breath from all the activity. “We either make or break the whole year in this one month, and then it’s over.”
I waited until Wednesday to reload and get these trees down to the church. I figured that after service, I’d have a few guys I could wrangle into helping me get these behemoths stood up inside the sanctuary. We cleared the stage. We tried several times to get the trees stands right. And finally, there were two Christmas trees standing. Matching monuments to my daughter’s vision of the perfect December wedding.
When I came in on Friday morning to do my part on set-up day, both trees were laying flat on the stage. One trip to the hardware store, 87 feet of wire, some well placed and hidden screws and two hours later both trees were standing. You could hang 16 tons of lights on these trees and they wouldn’t move, which is what we did. They will be the perfect backdrop for the perfect wedding later today.
I watched the two of them during the rehearsal last evening. A little clumsy. A little cute together. Working out some of the details that came up. Who’s going to stand here? When should the kids come down the aisle? What do we do with the rings? What happens if my Dad blubbers like an idiot? I couldn’t help but think back to our own wedding rehearsal and how I remember absolutely nothing about that part of the event. I know I was there. But I don’t remember making all these decisions. I remember going out to eat afterwards. But I wondered if our wedding was this complicated.
But I must say, by comparison, my daughter has kept this one pretty simple. The trees the holly and the poinsettias and candles are beautiful. The table settings are festive. The walking-down-the-aisle-music is Elvis, which doesn’t surprise me at all. And she sent me a link the other day to the Father/Daughter dance song (not Elvis) to make sure I liked it. Paul Simon singing:
I’m gonna watch you shine, Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign, so you always know.
As long as one and one is two, there could never be a father
Love his daughter more than I love you.
Excuse me while I go get ready. I need to iron my shirt and find a box of tissues. I want to look my best while I’m blubbering at my daughter’s wedding today.